San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee speaks during the North American Climate Summit in Chicago, Illinois, December 5, 2017.
Under Lee, San Francisco saw a crop of new high-rise buildings, and the city gained enhanced status as the global capital of the tech industry. She also served for five years as a San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Commissioner and in 2010 was appointed by then Mayor Gavin Newsom to be a San Francisco Fire Commissioner, where she served until her election to the Board of Supervisors.
As family, friends, and colleagues mourn the sudden passing of Lee, all eyes are now on Breed. London passed the strongest Styrofoam ban in the country; drug take-back legislation that has kept over 40 tons of medical waste out of the Bay and landfills; and she has spearheaded San Francisco's clean electrical energy program, CleanPowerSF, its most important climate change effort, which is projected to cut more than 940K tons of Carbon dioxide each year while reducing energy costs.
Lee Houskeeper, a publicist and friend of the mayor, said Lee collapsed at a Safeway store while grocery shopping Monday night.
Lee battled with fellow Democrats on development issues, but was a staunch supporter of numerous liberal policies most associated with San Francisco - including higher minimum wages, marriage equality and sanctuary status for those living in the country illegally.
Lee, who led the city during a development boom fuelled by unprecedented tech wealth, was 65.
The acting mayor is now on the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors, San Francisco County Transportation Authority and the San Francisco Democratic County Central Commission.
Flags around the city will fly at half-mast for 30 days in honor of Ed Lee, Breed said. I just held a press conference with Mayor Lee yesterday.
Lee's record on public housing, on the other hand, is one of unqualified success.
A man left flowers on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall after the mayor's death.
San Francisco's first Asian-American mayor, Lee got his start as a civil rights lawyer, then rose to the rank of city administrator, before being elected to mayor in 2011. It is now more than $1.2 million.
He was the fifth of six children and his parents - who hailed from a rural village in southeast China - struggled to make ends meet.
"We learn modesty. We learn sacrifice".
"Ed was a very idealistic and committed young man who was interested in social justice and very interested in immigrant rights and helping people who were less fortunate", said David Louie, a Berkeley Law graduate and former attorney general of Hawaii who lived with Lee on Blake Street. Even so, he said, the mayor's focus on housing ultimately helped the city produce more homes than it has in decades.
"We don't want to see another young life lost to senseless violence", Breed said in a KQED Newsroom interview. Three years later, she was chosen as board president.
San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she did not agree with Lee on business issues but was surprised to develop a great working relationship with Lee on housing and homelessness issues. "He was comfortable and natural and respectful".
"It is with profound sadness and awful grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 1:11 a.m.at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital", the statement said.
She said doctors tried lifesaving measures for several hours but Lee died at 1:11 a.m.
Ehrlich said the medical examiner will determine the cause of death and declined to release further information, citing privacy laws and family wishes.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee shown at a ceremony in honor of San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain's flawless game against the Houston Astros on June 13 before a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Feinstein, a Democrat, is now California's senior US senator.
Lee's death now will likely upend the race to replace him, which had been scheduled for 2019.
Breed lauded Lee's "life of service" and the notion that a son of a seamstress could ascend to the city's highest office. Former state Senator Mark Leno, a onetime member of the Board of Supervisors and longtime political figure, has already announced his candidacy.